I think it’s somewhat amusing that the radio call for help is “mayday.” The month of May is one of the busiest months of the year for us on the farm. Sometimes, a day in May does feel a little like a call of distress. (However, I don’t believe that the annual spring rush is what inspired this term to be used for a help signal. Supposedly, “mayday” has origins in the French language.)
We had a particularly busy day last week, compounded by the fact that we were planning on leaving early the next morning to travel to Indiana. The boys had finally got into the fields to start the first of their spring planting. We had a six day opening of no rain to get over a thousand acres of corn planted. We do not have very many acres to be planted in corn, but the boys had gotten calls from a number of neighboring farmers asking them to custom plant their crops for them.
After getting in from the fields at 3 am, the boys woke up with the rest of us at six to head back out again. The boys finished at the northern fields and brought the planter, field cultivator, and service truck the 15 miles home. There are still several hundred acres up north by Marvin’s farm to plant, but the ground wasn’t dry enough. Likewise, most of the acreage around here is planted, save for the fields that are still too wet. So they had to take the equipment south another 20 miles to start planting down there.
CAPTIONS: Dressing chickens and going to the Farmers Market, all in a day’s work for Rosanna!
By Rosanna Bauman
As we were feeding chickens, we got our routines interrupted twice by folks coming to pick up the poultry we dressed for them yesterday. Mom left on her meat delivery route about 8 am. I followed her into town to put up the signs for the Farmers Market tonight and run a few errands. I returned home just as the inspector arrived at 10:00 a.m. to watch us as we cut up chickens. Dad and I proceeded to cut up and package thirty-four of the chickens we dressed yesterday. I just sold out of the boneless breast meat and needed more for market that evening. As we were about half-way through cutting up the birds, the boys came by and asked us to make up a water jug. We told the boys they would have to get their own water jug, our hands were still full of chicken. My knife slipped once and took off nearly my entire index fingernail, Sure makes you glad you have fingernails to protect your fingers!
About 2 pm, I rush inside to bake a couple of cookie pizzas. Today is Joanna’s thirteenth birthday. Because of the busy spring circumstances, we aren’t going to be able to celebrate it much. I thought we could decorate a couple of cookie pizzas and take them with us to the Farmers Market for Joanna to give away to the shoppers. I guess this makes Joanna one of the few people who has her birthday party at the Farmers Market. But, I’m totally out of sugar. Morn is purchasing more today, but she’ll be back too late. I hem-haw around until I make up my mind to borrow sugar from our neighbor. I hop in the van and drive up the road, Emma does have extra sugar, thankfully. While I’m trying to toss together the cookies, the library calls to ask if the Farmers Market wants to participate in a special art project. In two weeks we need to assemble forty pictures that will tell the Farmers Market story. Well, yet another project to work on! The timer goes off for my cookies, but when I take them out they are both burnt blacker than anything I’ve ever seen. (It’s amazing the smoke alarm didn’t go off )The oven temperature was supposedly at 330 degrees, but it obviously had some thermostat issues. Well, there’s no time to make anything else for the market, so I ask Mom to pick up some store-bought cookies. It’s embarrassing to give away store-bought cookies at the Farmers Market, but we didn’t really have any other choice if we wanted to do something for Joanna’s birthday. Mom picked Joanna up from school on her way home from deliveries, and will arrive at market twenty minutes behind Dad and I. We leave at 3:45 for the market so we can get the grill heating in order to put the chicken on as soon as possible. Mom arrives shortly before the whistle blows and helps us finish setting up our booths and asks:
“Where’s the eggs?”
“I thought you grabbed them.”
“Well, I thought you did”
So Dad has to run back home to fetch the eggs, and also more chicken inventory that was supposed to be packed in the ice chests. The weather was beautiful, however, and there was good market attendance Joanna had no problem giving away her (store-bought) birthday cookies to the delight of the shoppers. No one else seemed to mind that the cookies were not homemade, because free cookies are still free cookiesl
Arriving home after market ended at 7:50, we quickly unloaded the vans so that we could load them with our suitcases. Before we can pack though, there are still things to wrap up., like taking out trash, feeding the chickens, and planting the garden. We planted some of the garden, but it wasn’t the enjoyable experience that it usually is. We like to take our time planting the garden to maximize this annual experience. We had to rush to get the garden in this year. In the fading daylight, we dug holes to put the seedlings in. We didn’t care so much about having straight rows as we did about just getting the plants into the ground. You must be barefoot when you plant the garden so that the soft brown dirt can wrap up around your toes. The experience wasn’t quite the same this year. The garden got tilled when it was still too wet, so the soil still hung in clumps that dried into hard clods. Instead of poking the plants into a bed of soft soil, we had to hoe aside the clods to get to the (somewhat) finer dirt deeper down. Then we covered the seedlings roots with clods and gave them a really long drink from the garden hose. It was so dark by this time that we had to use a flashlight in order to see the plants we were watering. Cloddy soil doesn’t keep the moisture as well, so we are getting a bit worried about the summer drought and how our late-planted garden will survive. We planted forty tomato plants, because we really need a tomato crop this year. We need to can a lot of pasta sauce, tomato soup, and salsa this summer, as our pantry shelves are nearly bare.
We went to bed about one o’clock, planning to awake at four A.M. to leave for Indiana. The planting is not completed yet, so Kevin and Steven will be staying home with Marvin to finish that. The rest of us will be glad to spend some days away from our Spring Rush and the To-Do lists to fellowship with our friends and family at the four day church conference. As we “catch up” with friends that we have not seen since the last conference, I know they will be asking me what I have been doing lately. I never know how to respond when I am asked this question, as I’m sure they don’t want to hear about chicken slaughter or calving problems, or even the daily catastrophes. So I usually just smile and say, “Well, not much besides the same ol’ same ol’ thing!”